Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Lookout Mountain

Last year's fog on top of Lookout Mountain at Chattanooga, TN, kept all the scenic views at the overlooks hidden. This year it was cloudy in the morning, but no fog or real low clouds. Some GREAT views -- could see 30 miles or so even thru the hazy sky. Other than the Natural Bridge, KY, run 6+ years ago, this race setting has to be the most scenic of any ultra I've attended. At least half this course was changed from last year, but the organizers kept the scenic sites intact & even went by the waterfalls area twice this time!

I would classify the course this year as "fast" for a 50 miler. One real big hill and lots of runnable grades up & down. Unlike last year, there was no mud to speak of & no knee deep water crossings -- the trail conditions were excellent. I enjoyed chatting during the race with a couple runners I had met at previous races -- Ken Seidl & Beau Wendholt. Beau mentioned he had moved to Chattanooga from Indiana, but still directed a trail marathon there (Honest Abe Marathon). I also passed Troy Shellhamer (a LLTH veteran & a local runner from Louisville) on the out'n'back part of the course. He was in first place & ended up extending that lead!! CONGRATS Troy!

As for my race performance, I was disappointed once again (avg 14:41/mile) but I have only myself to blame for a silly mistake in the 1st half of the race:

Looking at the new course map prerace, I didn't notice (duh), or it wasn't obvious to me until I ran into it, was that I would be running the 1st 22.5 miles with only 2 aid stations in that distance (3rd aid station was at 22.5 miles). Under normal weather conditions, I usually need 20 oz every 45 minutes -- so at a pace of say, 14 minutes/mile, I would need seven 20 oz drinks. Since I only carried one 20 oz bottle (that was the mistake), there was no way I could drink all that I needed at the aid stations & not be bloated. Needless to say I became very thirsty & had to drag myself into the 3rd aid station.

Once I get behind on the hydration, it's hard to get back just right. Over the next 3 aid stations (spaced closer), I drank & I drank -- then it got to where I was peeing every 5-10 minutes! I backed it off but I didn't get it right till I finished.

Also, I almost repeated my blunder of last year -- missing a turn and going an extra 2 miles:

The course marking at this event is unique in all the races I've run. Generally, the trail itself was not marked with flags. Flags are placed in a line across turnoffs -- don't cross the flags & you'll be OK!! There is one major flaw/inconsistency to this & I discovered it last year & did so again this year: when you are on a paved road, you can't stick the flags into the hard surface when you need to show a turn (you need a sign or a person or pavement marking here). Once again this year, I missed a turnoff from the road but luckily was caught after only going a couple hundred feet by the observant gal behind me -- THANK YOU! With this kind of marking, if you make a mistake, you won't know you're off course till you come to a junction & there's no flagging . . . could be miles!

I was surprised to even see some "confidence" marking this year, that is, flags placed other than at junctions to let you know you're on course when you haven't seen flags for miles. Other than the one turn I missed, I thought the course was very well marked & would guess that there were 3 or 4 times the number of flags of last year.

Next for me is surgery on my cyst later this afternoon!

Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Tecumseh Trail Marathon

A gorgeous day for the Tecumseh Trail Marathon! 4 inches of fresh snow -- reminding me of Louisville's Lovin' The Hills in February when the snow piled up on the branches till they could hold no more. Awesome scenery!

As for the race, well, I finished. Slower than the disappointing time of last year, as expected, and would have been even slower had the race been the same distance & on the same course as last year. Due to the snow, the race started & finished at the Yellowwood finish line -- an out and back instead of point to point.

I also learned a few hours later than instead of going to the halfway point where the largest hill on the course was located, the turnaround was at least 0.75 miles before then, making the race more than 1.5 miles shorter than last year & skipping the big hill altogether. That would have been fine by me except that I had left a drop bag at the halfway point & I did not realize that we were not going to pass by this area. I had disposed of my gatorade "water bottle" by mile 10 & was looking forward to picking up a new one along with some more gels! This was a mental & physical letdown for me at that point, but I managed to keep positive & continue enjoying the run on the way back to the finish, albeit a much slower return.

One thing about an out and back race is that you can see everyone in the race! I recognized quite a few faces although there were more runners who knew me than I knew (some even admitted they recognized me not by name but ONLY as that "fool" who never wears enough clothes). Felt sorry for the leaders who had to veer off the narrow single track when runners in the other direction did not yield and had to blaze a new trail into the unpacked snow. Much of the course was not meant to be double wide & with several hundred runners, there was alot of dodging for everyone.

I had some intestinal issues at the start & a foot (cyst) issue by the time I got to the finish, but I don't think either had a noticeable effect on my performance. My physical conditioning is still lacking, yet I feel I'm seeing some improvement. With the unsure footing in the snow, slush & mud, the cyst on the bottom right edge of my right foot received more lateral pressure than I was expecting -- even with my modified shoe. The cyst area is still swollen right now & reinforces the fact that this problem is not going away. Since I'm signed up for Lookout Mountain in a couple weeks, I believe I'll have surgery to remove the cyst after the race. Hopefully recovery will be quick.

Brian Holzhausen - Race Director:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

more surgery?

After OPSF a few weeks ago, I realized I had to do something about the cyst on the bottom of my foot as I could not place full weight on it without enduring pain. The Podiatrist stuck a needle in it (ouch!), but couldn't get anything out of it. A MRI of the foot confirmed the cyst was a solid, homogeneous mass -- likely a ganglion cyst & that it didn't appear to be malignant. The recommendation was to have it removed.

Ever since then, I've been debating whether to have this surgery, which would likely put me out of action for a minimum of 2-3 weeks (according to the Podiatrist). The thing is, I'm still several months away from recovering from my last stay in the hospital! As an alternative to surgery, I've discovered that if I modified my shoes, I could reduce the pain significantly. Adding another pad & making a hole in both inserts, I can keep most of the pressure off. But, raising the foot just this small amount makes it feel like I'm wearing elevated shoes and makes my toes prone to blisters on the TOP! Also, a hole in the side of my shoe allows some lateral relief. At a training run at Tecumseh this last Saturday, I added another pair of socks & plenty of lube & was able to finish the run without alot of pain. Biggest problem at the run was not the cyst, but being out of shape -- just been missing too much training time.

minimalistic footwear for around the house:

So, right now, with the shoe modification, the Tecumseh Marathon is a go & surgery is on hold. Based on the very slow training run, it looks like I won't be able to improve on my disappointing time of last year (when I was still recovering from the swine flu). Based on the pace I was able to keep on the training run, I'm going to have to downgrade my goal this year to 6 hours instead of 5.

Tecumseh training run crew, courtesy of Terry Fletcher:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2010 OPSF 50/50

I ran my 1st 50 miler at Owen Putnam State Forest (OPSF 50/50) in Indiana back in 2004. I returned last Saturday to help get back to the level of fitness I was in before my summer problems. Well, in a long race as this, any small issue can become a big one which is what happened with the cyst on my foot. Lots of pain there -- and after about 35 miles I could no longer push off from that foot. The pain eventually spread to my toes & I had to adjust my gait in order to finish. In hindsight, I should have pulled off my shoe & added some more vaseline to the outside of the cyst which was rubbing the inside of the shoe or just ended the race right then. I had lubed up the cyst at the start, but it needed more attention thruout the race. Since I'm still limping from this today, I realize until I get this resolved, I am not going to be able to pursue any more running.

About the race:

It was a beautiful race day! A frosty ground meant clear skies w/cold temps with no wind -- my kind of weather! A big difference from the 80 degree weather at Stone Steps just 2 weeks ago. Temps ranged from the lower 20's to the mid 40's. I wore a long sleeve technical shirt over a singlet the 1st & last 5 mile loops -- both done in the dark. The rest of the day was in a singlet -- felt great all day!

The course was very dry compared to previous years & the leaves were not 6" deep like the last time I ran this race. Still I managed to stub my toes as it's so much easier to shuffle the feet than run. One big difference this year was the devastation from lumbering operations on several miles of the 13.2 mile loop, which was run 3 times. I could hardly recognize many areas -- tree tops scattered everywhere & numerous turnoffs & rough areas from equipment usage. One thing that you had to do was pay attention to the ribbons -- there were at least 5 different ribbon colors! Of course, I managed to miss one turnoff . . . missing turns off a wide main trail has become a bad habit I've picked up mostly in the last year or two. Only went an extra half mile or so, but met 2 others when I was backtracking so I wasn't the only one to have missed that turn.

I've enjoyed this event several times over the years as it's so laid back and the volunteers are so supportive -- race director David Glass & former director Norm Carlson are great people too! However, I've had a negative for this event the last 2 times I've run here: On the short 5 mile loop, you will pass by residences that are next to the trail or road. If you're slow & finish in the dark (like me), it can be quite a challenge -- especially when by yourself. About every residence has dogs & some let them loose at night. Not a problem in the morning as you're running this small loop with alot of company at the start. In 2007, it was 2 large dogs -- one a heavy set pit bull mix that charged me while I was running on the road. One thing I've learned with dogs: one dog is usually not that bad (unless it's really mean & large) -- two dogs together get much bolder & dangerous -- 3 or more dogs together can be life threatening as they get that "pack mentality" & have no fear! This last Saturday, one large German Shepherd charged me as I running beside a house in the woods on the trail. At first, being so dark, I thought it was in a big pen -- wrong! I pointed my headlamp & handheld lights into his eyes. Even then he got too close for comfort! Only when I raised my arm & took a step toward this ferocious beast did he take a step back. There was a light shining from the house in my direction, so I did not throw a fist size rock which were plentiful on the surface I was running on at the time. Sure didn't want to get shot by some paranoid property owner so I backed away till the dog didn't follow.

Last month I signed up for the Dizzy Fifties in Alabama (Nov 20), but was put on a waiting list as I entered too late. With my current foot problem, I'm not going to be running this race even if I'm taken off the list. Going to see a Dr. to see if something can be done . . . Still, I haven't given up hope of finishing my 8th straight Tecumseh Marathon coming up in early December.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

2010 Stone Steps

I knew coming into this Stone Steps race that the 50k distance would be stretching my limits & that the course itself was not the easiest one for an attempt to return to ultrarunning after a 4-5 month layoff. And it proved just that - tough!

My legs were so sore after the 1st of 7 loops that I knew then I would be walking quite a bit this race -- & did. I really hit a wall with 2 loops (8.5 miles) to go & couldn't take another step. But I got some help: Brad Compton, who had signed up but didn't race due to an injury, showed real dedication & drove to the race anyway to volunteer. He was instrumental in getting me off the picnic table bench that I had been glued to. And also, thanks to Mike Matteson, I was able to start walking (baby steps at first) on the 6th loop. A couple miles later, I was able to break into a shuffle & continue that (w/walk breaks on inclines) to the finish. Final time was just under the 8 hour cutoff for the race -- almost exactly an hour slower than my previously slowest time on this course last year when I was recovering from the flu.

What made it so enjoyable though: I know or recognize more runners at Stone Steps than any other event that I regularly run. Yes, it's in Ohio, but KY only has 2 (or sometimes 3) ultras the entire year. It was great to hear how everyone's been doing! Of course, I would have enjoyed this event more had I been in better shape . . .

One thing was drastically changed this year at Stone Steps, and I hope it was just a one time deal (but I don't think so): A 27k race was added this year. They started a half hour later than the 50k. Exactly 6 miles into the race, the leader of the 27k unexpectedly passed me -- that meant he was running right at 5 minutes per mile faster than I was -- I blinked once & he was out of sight. That was just the beginning. In the next 2 1/2 laps, it seemed like every 27k runner passed me on the sometimes narrow trail. It became crowded on the 2nd pass thru the short out & back of the 3 mile loop: there were alot of runners behind (27k runners) & even more runners approaching (50k & 27k runners) -- all moving faster than I was. I think I just happened to hit the rush hour for this portion of the course & had I been running faster up to this point, I probably would have avoided most of the traffic jam.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the OPSF 50/50, instead of the Pinhoti 100 (which I had plans on running before my problems over the summer). At the time though, I didn't realize I would aggravate a (ganglion?) cyst on my right foot during Stone Steps. The cyst looks like a bunion, but mine is near the small toe. Trying to divert excessive pressure off that side, I also strained my arch somewhat. So I'm going to see how my foot progresses before deciding to take on the race. As for my abdomen where I had surgery, I could tell my gut was not the same, but I did not have any issues thank goodness!

Friday, October 8, 2010

training resumes

Since my last surgery, I've felt a little better every single day -- maybe that last one did the trick (fingers crossed!). The only real pain I'm having right now is from my joints, which is typical when I start back into training after a long layoff. No pain from the abdominal region. I started hiking earlier in the week and I'm now into jogging. The first jog was about as tough of a run as I've done in a long time -- fits & starts & negative thoughts. But after the 1st mile, I was able to slog steadily. A couple miles later though, my right knee said "STOP, you will NOT take another step!" and I had no choice but to comply. My 2nd jog yesterday was better.

Being so out of touch with the ultrarunning scene these past several months, today I caught up on my reading of everyone's blogs that I used to keep up with regularly. Reading all those interesting stories & race reports sure has me motivated to get back into shape! I already have some leg muscle soreness just from jogging -- boy do I have a ways to go. . .

As an added incentive to keep moving forward, I've signed up for the Stone Steps 50k (in 2 weeks). The race is on one of my favorite courses & has a great RD in Dave Corfman. I know I'm not ready for the full 50k at the moment, but he has added a 27k option this year. Plus, the fact that runners pass by the start/finish every 3 or 5 miles thruout the race, I could easily drop -- DNF, which I've done there before.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

the end is near?

Yes, I 'bout fell off the Earth. It's been a difficult few months since my last blog entry. Been depressed with the everyday coping with pain & nausea as the simple side pain I had in June steadily worsened to an unbearable point. I had my 3rd surgery Thursday & for the first time in a few months I have optimism that there can be an end to this misery. I'm hoping I can slowly start some hiking & then try running again. I know my leg muscles have atrophied as I learned several years ago that as I age, the longer the break in running I have, the higher the rate of muscle tone loss. A 2-3 week break is tough, a 2-3 month break (w/zero exercise) is very very tough. I seem to keep up on the aerobic side after a long break but I'm sure that is affected, though not as noticeable at first.

So once again, after signing up earlier in the year, I'm going to miss the 2nd annual OIL CREEK 100 next week (Oct 16) because of a health issue (swine flu last year). However, I just signed up for the Jan 2011 Mountain Mist 50k (because they fill up so quickly) -- so I am thinking positive!

Friday, June 18, 2010

No Mo

All week I've been flip-flopping (at least 3 times) on a decision to run Mohican 100 tomorrow. When there was no abdominal pain whatsoever, I'd feel like on cloud 9. I would then go over my race & course strategies and continue to prepare everything, including packing 7 drop bags. Each time the unpredictable pain returned, I had to re-evaluate my plans. Last night before I went to bed, I thought I had made the final decision to run -- everything was ready -- leave for Loudonville in the morning. In the very early morning hours though, I was awakened (for the 1st time) by side pain. That was the final straw. I can be really hard-headed, but common sense won this time.

I'm DEVASTATED! A year long wait has gotten a year longer. My legs are full of run -- all my training since McNaughton will do me little good when I return (body willing) to racing at the end of summer.

Going to see another specialist ASAP.

Friday, June 11, 2010

a diagnosis

After being continually prodded, stuck for blood, probed from within & zapped by ultrasound & x-rays, the latest diagnosis (or educated guess) is: an abdominal wall strain (slight hernia). Despite all the tenderness in my entire right side -- everything, including the liver, kidney, adrenal, stomach, colon & pancreas were deemed normal by the Drs. after looking at all the tests (that's good to know!).

At first, the most pain was generally where my gall bladder would be, but since that & my appendix were removed many years ago, it made it all that more perplexing. Secondly, it was thought it was my kidney since I have a horseshoe kidney; have had a history of stones & the 2 cysts in the right kidney that, according to the radiologist's report, had grown in size since my last scan 5 years ago. However the urologist said that my kidney did not appear to be the source of pain & that the cysts I have are very common & did not concern him (good!).

a late race report:

Initially the pain a couple weeks ago felt like a "side stitch" that would come & go, so I did make an attempt to run Another Dam 50k last Saturday. A couple miles after the start though, the pain came back, so I immediately slowed down (no choice really) & stopped after the 1st lap.

Of what I completed of the race, I liked the new course (with no sun). Several years ago when I ran this, the flood waters came up DURING the race & the course was altered "midstream" -- including some trail blazing for some on one lap. This new course was changed more this time -- more trail, but still a very, very fast course. The sun was intense back when on the old course, but not last Saturday. Instead, it was cloudy and the dew point was 70+ degrees -- extremely humid in my book. After a few miles, I was so soaked it looked liked I had just got out of a swimming pool! The temperature was already 77 at the start, 10 degrees warmer than forecast, but despite the humidity, I didn't feel hot like I usually do under the conditions -- I think my mind was pre-occupied with the pain. I don't believe it got into the 80's the rest of the day. Sure wish I could have found out if I would have handled the conditions the entire distance.


I thought I really needed to finish Another Dam 50k to have enough heat training for the Mohican 100. And, of course, I did not foresee this side pain (which I still have). Also, since I will have not run whatsoever for 2 full weeks come race day next Saturday, Mohican is looking doubtful at the moment. If I don't run Mohican, the disappointment will almost rival missing the inaugural Oil Creek 100 race last Fall (because of the swine flu)!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Due to an unexplained pain, my activities are very limited at the moment. I'm awaiting the results of the latest tests/scan and a diagnosis.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stone Steps 50k - FA

The FA run on the Stone Steps course this past Saturday officially kicked off my heat training that will hopefully prepare me for the Mohican 100 in 3 weeks. Every year in the cool Spring, I set goals for the summer, but always tone them down after my 1st encounter with an 80+ degree day. This year will not be any different.

With the forecast high of 83 in Cincinnati for this FA run, I was looking to get a gradual introduction to running in the heat. I really wasn't prepared for the actual weather I encountered: 90 degrees & high humidity!! The sun was intense & when out in the open, I had to run from shady spot to shady spot. The best thing about this was it felt "cool" once I got back into the woods, when actually it was still hot. Only about 2 to 3 miles of the 50k was out in the direct sun -- at Mohican, about 25 miles of the course will be on dirt, gravel or paved roads -- alot of sun exposure will be possible & most all of that portion of the race will be done in the afternoon.

As for my FA run, I arrived 30 minutes late due to a wreck on I-75 and did not start with the other runners. I set my own slow steady pace that I hoped would get me thru the day. That pace was almost 16'/mile -- which I was able to maintain for about 8 hours for the 50k, a PW (personal worst). Still, if I can keep that same pace up thru the heat of the day at Mohican, I would be in a good position to finish the race this year (as long as my back cooperates!).

I did get in a good chat with Dave Corfman, RD for Stone Steps 50k, who was taking it easy this day recovering from an injury. Got to hear about his upcoming Badwater adventure in mid-July -- talk about the need for heat training!! Also ran into Kyle Fahrenkamp this day, who was also getting in a heat work -- he'll need it as he's on Dave's crew! Good Luck you guys!


I'm going to have one more long training run in the heat & humidity this coming Saturday: Another Dam 50k. The course has alot of road & wide trail that will be exposed to the sun. I could not handle that whatsoever last time I ran it a few years ago. I need the training, yet I don't want to get burnt out (literally) 2 weeks before Mohican. So will set the same goal as last Saturday -- finishing!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2010 Dances w/Dirt Gnawbone 50M

Be warned, another long report:

Having skipped the John Bryan 50k 2 weeks after McNaughton this year, I felt fully recovered this time & prepared for DWD -- unlike last year. I had hopes of breaking 11 hours & chalking up another course PR. With rain in the days leading up to this race, I knew it would be muddy on the horse trails as I had run this race the last 3 years & pretty much knew what to expect. What I had learned & reinforced myself with each year too was that following course markings would be a top priority . . . well, I thought I had learned. That, plus an unlucky twist, made for an eventful race. The course studying & long thought out plans for hydration & fueling was all out the window starting an hour into the race . . .


It was a cool, partly cloudy morning with heavy dew in the fields around the start area. I got there an hour early for the 6:15 start after a 2 hour drive. There were a couple ACRES of vacant parking when I arrived, so why does the next car arriving park so close to my car that I can't even open my door halfway? One of my pet peeves, I guess, so I just pull out & re-park. A sign of things to come?


At the start line I position myself at the very back of the pack & notice Paul Owen, also from Louisville, standing right beside me. Hope you had a good run Paul!

Paul & I ran together for the 1st mile or so. According to my GPS, the first mile, mostly on gravel road was 11:33, much better than the 14 minute first mile of last year when I couldn't muster any leg turnover whatsoever. As expected, we ran into muck on the first hill, but after that it was mostly just wet ground with only a few real muddy sections (till it started raining).

aid station/drop bag blunder:

After we reached "Horse Trails", I was expecting an aid station, but never saw it. No problem though, my only drop bag (visited twice) was at the next scheduled aid station where the plan was to drink 20 oz & pick up 20 oz more in my water bottle & pick up some gels. I had not started the race with a water bottle as I knew I would pick it up at my drop bag at the 2nd aid station - WRONG! Arriving at the Raccoon Ridge aid station, there were NO drop bags to be found -- I was in a daze. I asked the volunteer where they were & she said they decided to move them to the next aid station & pointed down the road -- so I headed that way. I was so engrossed with the fact that the drop bag was not there that I failed to drink & fuel up!!! I didn't realize this till I was a half mile down the trail -- a HUGE blunder on my part, but felt like that blunder shouldn't have had the chance of happening in the first place . . .

back on track (for a while):

I tried to keep positive, even though my thoughts kept returning to the fact that I was burning up my energy reserves that I would need late in the race. The course was changed quite a bit thru here from last year, so I focused on that. There were numerous wide streams that kept your feet wet, but they were a good place to keep the mud washed off. The organizers also added probably the steepest hill on the course thru here & it would have to be done twice this day.

Finally arriving at the aid station at 9 miles, I got the first gels & drink at my drop bag. It wasn't hot & I wasn't dying of thirst, so I felt I wasn't set back too far . . . hydration wise at least. For the next 10 miles or so, my energy level felt OK & I was able to get all my mind into enjoying the run.

something is wrong here! :

Running on some real nice, well maintained bike trails coming up to the Hesitation Point aid station, I came even with a runner & he introduced himself as Rick Ferguson. I had passed by him on trails in Louisville but had never met him. He was running his first 50 miler, although at that point he was thinking about dropping down to 50k. We were having a good chat when all of a sudden we spot a gal with marking flags off trail to our right --- she says "You need to be over here!" What?? We get off the bike trail & head over to a lesser maintained trail that heads up the hill. I did not recognize this trail from previous years. On this trail, it was a straight shot (uphill) to the aid station & probably cut off at least one big switchback on the bike trail -- I knew something had to be wrong somewhere. I saw her continuing in a straight line down the hill behind us, bypassing all the bike trail we had just come up!! -- what gives??

Leaving the Hesitation Point aid station & the best scenic view on the course, I crossed the road & headed to the trailhead. I approached the end of a fence where some people were standing & I went on by them & down the trail. After a while I saw yellow flags but it didn't dawn on me I was on the wrong trail as my mind was still trying to figure out what had happened just before the last aid station. Then I heard the familiar "You're going the wrong way!" As I came back to the end of the fence, I realized there was also a trail on the other side of the fence! I was thinking the people standing there blocked the view of the pink flags, but when I came thru the 2nd time on the next loop, I could see that you had to really look to find the pink flagging on the other side of the fence. No big deal, it just reinforced the fact that I had to concentrate more on the task at hand.

Ogle Lake:

The rest of the loop was familiar to me & had not changed (it was run in the opposite direction only the 1st year). On the way down the trail to Ogle Lake I ran into a family trekking up the muddy trail. One adult was carrying a little girl & there was one small boy crying, obviously very tired, literally being pulled up the hill. Really felt sorry for him as he had at least another mile uphill to go! After passing them I could see the mischief that they had gotten into earlier: pulling flags down -- some scattered, some in neat piles. I knew the way so it wasn't a problem. What surprised me though as I reached the Lake was that I couldn't find the aid station!! I knew there was a last minute call for volunteers on the website -- maybe they ran short?! Was it one of the cars parked in the lot with the trunk open?

2nd loop:

Starting the 2nd loop, around the marathon distance, my legs started to give out. I stopped to take a stick out of the inside bottom of my shoe & wish I hadn't. The saturated shoe felt like 5 pounds in my hands! That probably worked on me mentally more than anything.

To keep everyone on their toes, or just keep it more interesting, the 2nd trip around the main loop had 2 major changes from the 1st time around. The loop would be 2 miles shorter, but they would also add an "off trail" section. Plenty of flags & signs thru these areas -- they did a great job marking here.

Part way thru this loop it started to rain. The forecast the entire week had NO mention of rain for the race -- even with the forecast as late as Friday night. It was a surprise to feel the 1st raindrops. When I heard thunder, I knew then we were in for a soaking. I didn't mind the rain itself at all, in fact it cooled me down. What had me thinking ahead though, was that I knew that the already mucky mud on the last few miles of horse trails on the course were going to be really nasty by the time I got there!

The bike trails were hardly affected by the rain, even when the rain became heavy. I could see where volunteers had opened up the sides of the trails so that all the puddles would drain. The trail itself had a good cross slope & was hard packed, so even at the wettest times, there were bikers on the course. One problem on the bike trails though, was amplified by the rain. It was impossible to hear the bikes approaching with the rain pelting the leaves.

something is wrong here! (part 2):

As I was heading up the bike trail up to Hesitation Point, I suddenly noticed a runner crossing the trail from left to right in front of me. It looked like a runner I had passed going thru the last aid station. I asked her if she was on the course. She said she's following the same trail she ran the 1st loop! Lo & behold I look directly to my left & then to the right & I see pink flags -- what's going on? Did I miss the turn twice now?! (I must have & so did others). Anyway, I made an abrupt right turn & headed up the hill after her & it led up to Hesitation Point quite quickly. I didn't realize how fortunate it was to see her at that one instant till I could see the GPS plot after I got home & see as to just what had happened. My GPS registered 50.83 miles for my race while the website said the course was 49.5 miles. My GPS always measures on the short side on courses, more so when the leaves are on the trees & there's loss of signal -- not sure how long the course actually was or how much I ran.

the final legs:

The horse trails didn't disappoint. Some of the mud pits were under water! Deep! Soup city! Fun?!

One of the last legs of the course was changed quite dramatically. I'm really surprised that DNR (Dept of Nat Resources) would approve off trail running in such wet conditions -- a big NO NO to get off trail anytime here in the Jefferson Memorial Forest. "Running" in a forested area across steep, slick cross slopes exposed alot of areas to erosion as runners battled to keep upright.

The snow ski slope at the end, well, that was a different story. It was already a developed, commercialized area, but the drainage was not being maintained. I guess I saw it at its worst, in the middle of a downpour. I had a choice of using my rear as a board & water skiing the stream right down the middle or sliding on the mud on either side or slipping on the flattened, soaked grass to the outside of that. I chose digging in my heels & zigzagging across these sections on the best path that would keep me upright -- succeeded!

At the finish, my timing chip didn't work, covered in mud. They really didn't have to show tenths of a second for my time when they guess-timated my finish time off their watch. 12:36.01.7

other notes:

The organizers really did improve on their course marking over previous years with lots of flagging & signs -- in fact I was giving them high praise . . . until I reached Hesitation Point. They also did a SUPER job in separating the relay runners from the ultra runners. Not once did I see a relay runner on the same trail this year.

The barbecued pork at the finish was not in short supply this year & was real tasty!

Although I've attended DWD the last 4 years, I'm considering running in the Massanutten 100 in 2011 which is on or about the same date as DWD each year . . . will see how the training goes & if I can get entry thru the December lottery.


The race I'm training for right now is the Mohican 100 in mid June. The last 2 years there I've had trouble with the heat & had major problems with my back. I'm looking for a good prep race the 1st week of June. Another Dam 50k (AD50k) and the DINO 15k at Brown County appear as good options. I'm leaning towards AD50k at the moment. Although I wouldn't classify AD50k as a full trail race, it would help prepare me for all the sun & road that I'll be exposed to on the new Mohican course. The AD50k website says the course has been changed to provide more trail, but I don't see that on the park/course map & wouldn't expect anything different. The intense sun shut me down 4 years ago when I last run the race, so I know I have my work cut out for me if I choose the race.

final note:

If anyone can help me, I've been unable to hyperlink the main DWD web page on this blog: Maybe it's just the Firefox browser I'm using. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2010 The Original McNaughton Park 100M

I hear people say that continuing after 50 miles to reach 100 miles that it's all mental. For me, that has never been the case. Maybe it's because of my own physical limitations that I feel it's the other way for me. At the McNaughton 100 this past Sat/Sun, it was no different. It was typical of a race that lasts over a day -- alot of things can happen -- and usually does. Instead of a lap by lap detail as I've done in the past for this race, I thought I'd list the physical challenges which I encountered (or did not encounter) & how I dealt with them:

a fickle backbone (Drs. have told me it's Degenerative Disk Disease):

My back going out is the reason or the major contributing factor in each of my previous 100 miler DNF's -- was not a factor in this race -- thank goodness! However, on Friday morning the day before this race, I thought for sure I was NOT even going to start. My back is fickle in that it can go out for no reason at any time. But this time, my middle back went out (popped) when I awkwardly tried to lift a drop bag from the backseat from the driver's seat. It had slipped so bad that the pain radiated thru my ribs/chest & felt like I was having a heart attack too! After a painful & most tense time at packet pickup, I debated whether to spend the night, head home or find out where the local hospital was located. After deciding to spend almost every single minute afterwards in a motel bed, I miraculously got up to a pain free back! I guess I don't always have anything but bad luck . . .

heat (I have an extremely high intolerance for this):

Most would say the weather on race day was nice -- 40's to the mid 70's, clear skies. For me, I look at it this way: the high temps would be 15 degrees above normal & my body had not adjusted to the change. Yes, it was lovely scenery with a beautiful blue sky which I thoroughly preferred over dreary, rainy skies of past years, but handling the heat has always been a problem for me. Fortunately, for this race, I only had a slight problem mid-afternoon Saturday when no matter how much I drank, I was still thirsty and fluids stayed sloshing in my stomach. This usually only happens to me when it reaches 80 or so, but fortunately there was a nice breeze in the afternoon & I was able to survive this day!

feet & ankles (sprains, blisters, etc.):

These are usually not a concern for me for races 50 miles or less, unless it's the occasional sprained ankle. For longer distances & for races where the feet stay wet, it's a big challenge to finish without any problems in this department for me. With 2 creek crossings & 1 unavoidable soupy mud pit each lap for 10 laps, I was going to have wet feet the entire race (after the 1st creek crossing 3 miles into the race). The course was unusually dry for "Muddy McNutty" this year as I think it's the 1st year in the last 4 that it didn't rain the day before or on race day. There were still muddy sections, but at most places there was a fairly dry runaround if you made the effort. My problem this year was the one soupy mud pit that had a stream running down the middle of it. The mud was easy to wash off when reaching the creek a couple miles later, but the washing did not remove the sand & grit left behind inside the shoes! I ended up having several blisters for the 1st time in over a year, but nothing serious. The heavy wet shoes & socks had a bigger effect on me than the blisters this day.

I also had one short-lived problem, thankfully, with my toes this race. Coming down a short steep hill (one of countless) too fast, I used my forefeet to slow myself down (you know, the loud flopping you hear of runners feet coming down a hill behind you). Anyway, I did it so hard that I thought I broke the toes on one foot! It was extreme, wincing pain for a minute & thoughts of a DNF quickly came to mind. After shifting all the weight to the other foot & hobbling down the trail, the pain slowly went away (whew!)-- learned quickly not to do that again!


This seems to be a more of a recent problem as I've gained a little weight in the last couple years. Before, I had always put lubricant on prerace & that was all I needed. Now I've found it needs to be applied on a regular basis, but I still keep forgetting to re-apply it until chafing has started (by then it's too late). This race day, the bottom half of my running shorts had so much Hydropel & vaseline in them than they looked shiny wet! I've learned from experience that chafing can become extremely painful & can become a race ending factor.

other (hydration/electrolytes, swelling, nausea, stomach/intestinal issues, etc., etc.):

There are so many other things that can happen too -- too many to list. Like when I got some sweat/crud in my eyes early Sunday morning. Not wearing a shirt, I didn't have anything to wipe my eyes with. I was pretty much blinded until I shed enough tears to stop the stinging. With the help of the SUPER volunteers at the Heaven's Gate aid station, I was able to clear my eyes. This aid station, manned by the "Buffalo", is SECOND TO NONE in all the races I've ever entered. On this one day, I was helped by Bill Dey, Ellen Erhardt, Chris Migotsky, Brian Kuhn, Jeff Riddle & many others. And as it seems like every year, Ellen went way out of her way to help (chased me down after I had already left the aid station to give me a dry paper towel to use/carry -- just what I needed!).

the race in brief:

A dryer (less muddy) course than usual meant only a 50% DNF rate, much better than previous years. The course was still challenging, regardless, with its countless short steep hills & creek crossings. I was able to maintain a very steady pace, my best effort ever in that regard, & was able to crank out a course PR & finished 8th out of 44 runners. I was lapped twice by Zach Gingerich, winner of Umstead 100 (in a record 13:23 !! just 2 weeks previous). The 2nd time was at mile 44 (he was on mile 64), but apparently he dropped before he could lap me again. Chatted a little on the course with David C., Mike M., Nikki S., Juli A., Dan F., Roy H. & several others who I didn't get their name. It was a fun time on the trails!

My chart courtesy of McNaughton Park Trail Runs and

I was happy to meet Rich & Eric too, the new Race Directors. They were really easy to talk to -- I think they did a GREAT job -- Thanks guys!


Not sure at this moment. I was planning on the John Bryan 50k as a recovery run before DWD at Gnawbone, but this race really took it out of me, so it looks doubtful right now. I'm about as sore as I've ever been, so will see how the recovery goes before making any plans.

Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 Clinton Lake

I've used this race as a prep for the McNaughton 100 & 150 the last 2 years. The Clinton Lake 30M course reminds me much of the trails at McNaughton -- both trails are soft dirt when it's not muddy and both have 10 mile loops. The hills seem somewhat similar although a few of the hills are bigger at McNaughton -- but not as frequent.
This year, the weather & course conditions at Clinton Lake were very good. Nice & cool. A few muddy spots, but they dried up thru the day. Logan Martin returned to break his own course record set last year. It was awesome to see such a runner in action up close, although it was pretty deflating to be lapped at mile 17 of a 3 loop, 30 mile race . . . .

I set my PR for this course & for 30 miles last year at 5:58:35. I was hoping for a similar time this year, but ran out of gas -- 6:12:37. I believe the effort was there, but I feel the 10 pounds extra weight I've been packing the last few months takes its toll. Looks like I'll be back on yet another diet this summer.

It was great to see familiar faces in a race so far from home. This day I ran into: Ellen (2008 winner), Mike (met last race), Chris (RD), Jeff (my on the course motivator), Brian (CHUGS), Cassie (ex-blogger, now facebook), Jake (another friendly runner) and Juli & Val (a loving couple). I also ran with & chatted for a little while with Kathleen -- she's listed as 61 & age group winner on the results, but she sure ran like & looked like she was alot younger.

a final note:

I do wish to thank Chris Migotsky for his efforts & dedication as Race Director for the three years I've run this event. His enthusiasm spilled out onto others too & will be missed as he retires from directing & focuses more on his own running. I'm sure I will see Chris again on the course next year.

Chris (the one dancing) & also Mike & Jeff in this pic:


"Muddy McNutty" There won't be a 150 miler this year at McNaughton as there's a new RD. Can count on a super slimey course, as usual.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2010 Land Between the Lakes

Land Between the Lakes (LBL) & Louisville's Lovin' the Hills (LLTH) are the only trail ultras left in KY since Herb dropped his Natural Bridge & KUTS races several years ago. LBL has survived all these years & has thrived -- quadrupling in size since I first ran on this course in 2005. So with this year's race being my 6th straight running, it would seem logical I would have learned how to run this race most efficiently & stuck to it . . . Nope. I thought I had it down pat last year as I finally had a good run, but I went out & totally ignored that strategy that worked so well. "Stupid is as stupid does."

This is the bad habit that I've reverted to 5 of the last 6 years: The first 1.7 miles of the course is a paved roadway before entering an 11.3 mile single track loop that's repeated several times. Most (more than 80% of the 300+ runners this year) I line up with each year are running a shorter distance. It's only natural their pace (as a whole) would be faster, so it follows that I would be at a slower pace, right? It's not that I get burned out running a fast pace in those 1.7 miles. It's that once we reach the trail, we're funneled down into single track & into long lines of runners and I try to keep with the flow -- so I stay on pace with everyone (I'm too pigheaded to pull off the course for a few minutes). The pace is actually easy, but of course it's only the 1st lap of 4. I usually don't get into my own pace until the one lap runners drop off the course at 13 miles -- by then it's too late, the damage has been done. This course causes me more problems on starting pace than any other I run. I've already set my goal for next year (& it only involves 1.7 miles).

the race:

The course was in pretty good condition & the temps were cool -- many records were broke this day. There were a few muddy spots, but not bad, although these spots would become wallowed out a little more by the 4th lap & we had some rain then too.

I felt good the 1st lap, but also felt a little spent near the end at 13 miles (this was not a good sign). By the end of the 2nd lap at about 24 miles, my legs were gone. I began thinking about dropping down to 60k (3 laps) like a dozen other 50 milers eventually did. Instead of quitting, I decided to go into my very slow, but steady pace mode -- a pace that would let me finish without walking the flats. The only problem with that was that I still had a cutoff to make if I wanted to continue on to 50 miles. If I didn't finish the 3rd lap in 7 hours 45 minutes (13 minute pace), I would be forced to head to a 60k finish. Somehow making it under the cutoff, I continued with my "survival" pace -- it suited me & I actually felt pretty good the last lap. Not good enough to get into the "running" mode again, but enough that I enjoyed myself the entire lap & that's what it's about! Official time: 11:05:16, about half an hour slower than last year.

Looking back, I did have fun & as usual, ran into many familiar faces & was introduced to a few new ones! Ones I can remember and was able to get in a word or two: Steve & John D., Mike H., Jeff R., Cynthia H., Kim R., Troy & Kara S., Josh A., Brian Y., Bob E., Logan S., Jennifer B., Chris M. & David G. I heard my name shouted out by at least 4 runners who I didn't know. Two of them took the time to introduce themselves & I'm happy that they did: Mike Matteson -- I had seen at several other races, but we had never met. I'll see Mike again at my next 2 events: Clinton Lake 30M & McNaughton Park 100M. Congrats on a nice run Mike! Henry Cubero -- I had seen his name on the LLTH entry list, but that was about it. We kind of leap frogged thru the race, but Henry became hobbled as he felt like he had a stress fracture in one foot. After starting the 4th lap he had to drop at the next aid station -- that was pretty gutsy to start on that last lap Henry!

extra notes:

Thanks to Steve Durbin, RD and all the dedicated volunteers who make this one of the most organized & enjoyable events that I attend each year!

Congrats to Cynthia Heady, RD of LLTH, who captured her 2nd win in the 50 miler!

Hats off to the runner (Naresh?) who finished the 50 miler wearing Vibrams Five Fingers!


Next up is Clinton Lake 30M. This has proved to be good preparation for McNaughton, so looking forward to the event.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2010 Mt. Cheaha 50k

With LLTH moved back a week from Valentines, there would be 5 weeks to Land Between the Lakes (LBL) -- usually my next race. So to fill the gap, I decided to try the Mt. Cheaha 50k down in Alabama to see what some have said is a more challenging race than the Mountain Mist 50k in Huntsville (the Mountain Mist website claims their race is the toughest run in Alabama). I also wanted to get away from all the snow & mud on the local trails which made training difficult. Which reminds me, I met Kim, the Trail Goddess, on one of those "less than ideal" trail condition days (nice weather though) last week. It was a real surprise, shocking actually, to see a runner from out of state on the snowy hills in Louisville and that runner to be someone I knew too! It made for a pleasant run -- Thanks Kim!

It was a very long drive to Oxford, AL -- like the 400+ mile trip to the Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic 50k last year, but the Friday afternoon traffic thru Tenn. & Ala. was not as bad as when I went up thru Ohio.

Arriving Friday afternoon, I did some sightseeing around Cheaha State Park, the location of the finish line & early packet pickup. I also drove around the park checking out where I had made a 2.5 mile wrong turn in the dark in last year's Pinhoti 100, which also ran thru this park. The park roads looked completely different in the daylight hours! Still, it took me a while to figure out where & how I actually made the mistake. Someone local would have never taken the wrong road as I did -- that wrong turn helped earn me a DNF in that race last year.

on top -- course comes up this road, not far from the finish:

the race:

Race day begins with an early bus ride from the finish line to the start area for this point to point race. Apparently, the RD miscalculated the number of runners taking the 2 buses this year. I'm sure glad I got one of the seats, although it was in the back of the bus. Felt sorry for all the people who sat in the aisles -- I would have gotten motion sickness for sure!

Arriving at the start 40 minutes early, there wasn't much to do except to sign in & try to keep warm. Although it was in the upper 20's at the start, I would be running with a singlet, sleeves & shorts. I placed myself about mid-pack as the race started right on time. With 160 runners toeing the line at the trailhead though, the inevitable bottleneck would come very quickly in this race as the single track trail started in less than 100 feet!!

Mt. Cheaha: current skycam

The first few miles were pretty easy going as the pace was dictated by where I had placed myself at the start. I was so glad to be away from all the mud & snow back in KY -- the only slippage here was on thick mats of pine needles! At about mile 7 or 8, the trail emptied out onto a washed out jeep road. At first it was uphill, but then led to a mile or 2 of steady, straight & very runnable downhill. This is where alot of runners kicked it into gear (I put it into neutral). I looked down at my GPS & it said I was running 9 minute miles, if so, everyone else was doing 8 minutes & less! Comparing this course to LLTH, the hills are higher & much longer both up & down, but not as steep or as frequent. One exception to that is the very steep climb up Mt. Cheaha near the end of the race.
not sure where I got this (last year's run), but thanks to the original poster:
After the jeep road, the trail went up onto a ridge & stayed there for a long way. Some very nice scenic overlooks when 1st coming up on this ridge. About this time, nature came a calling -- after many years of racing, I've still not found a sure fire diet that will keep this from happening 100% of the time. Weakened with this & along with my changed intake at the aid stations, I just couldn't seem to get any pep into my stride afterwards. With no drop bags in this race, I would be relying on the aid stations for all my intake after the start. Heed would be the drink the rest of the race & having trained on sweet Gatorade, it was a big difference. For the 1st time though, I didn't have abdominal discomfort after drinking Heed as has happened twice before.

one of the nice campsites:

After the scenic overlooks, the trail was following and running just the below the very top of the ridge and it became pretty rough going. Here it was not the embedded rocks as much as the flat rocks that were lying on top of uneven ones that made it tough. Every step was an adventure for several miles as the rocks teetered in unpredictable directions beneath the feet. If I fell here, there were no soft spots so I took my time as I didn't want to get injured. I was very lucky & never once turned an ankle or even rolled one slightly, yet my ankles were extremely sore by the time we finished this section. Many trips, but no falls this day!

Finally leaving the extra rocky section, the course became pretty familiar to me. It was the Pinhoti 100 course run in reverse direction, which I had done twice before. Alot of that was in the dark, so it was nice to see everything I missed. The cold creek crossings hadn't changed, but I could also see what I could only hear before -- the beautiful mountain creek rushing thru the gorge -- nice!

All good things come to an end though as the trail emptied out onto a gravel, then paved road for 2 or 3 miles. My ankles were sore & my feet were hurting as they pounded the hard road. It was easier to shuffle than to run or walk so that's what I did. Most of the runners I had passed on the trail the last 3 or 4 miles passed me back. What I'll remember most though as I trudged along was the sight of Mt. Cheaha looming ahead. On the steepest part of the mountain I could see a near vertical rock face -- that's where the course went!

from Mt. Cheaha -- course approaches from the ridgeline to the distant left in this pic:From the last aid station at Lake Cheaha, the course went UP. Gradual at first, then became steeper & rockier until it was almost a hand climb & the rocks became boulders. I was familiar with the trail having come down this mountain twice, but it sure was a night & day difference in comparison to going up this trail. So I motored up this mountain step by measured step, just watching the heart rate as my legs felt OK with the steep climb. I passed a couple runners who seemed to be having extreme difficulty thru here & I also passed directly underneath 2 people rapelling down the rock face!

At the top of this extra steep section, the course became a mix of paved road & trail. I just wanted to finish evenly from here & not get passed by too many runners on the road sections (2 actually passed). Official finish time 7:20:23.

Jamie & Todd Henderson (in the pink & in the red), Race Directors at the finish at the Bald Rock Lodge:


Land Between the Lakes 50M. Last year was one of my better efforts, so matching that will be my goal.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010 Louisville's Lovin' The Hills

Well, it's been almost 2 months since my last post here, but I didn't abandon blogland during this time -- I've been working on my LLTH PLUS blog & it's been really fun!

As for this year's version of LLTH, there was no ice storm cleanup to worry about like last year, but there was always the worry that the weather would be so bad that nobody could make it to the race. We lucked out on that & despite the weather & road conditions, most of the entrants were able to make it to the event. Some runners may have opted out and not attended due to the expected "less than ideal" trail conditions, but they sure missed out if they did -- it had to be the most scenic race of all previous years. I thought the race went very smoothly start to finish & was a big success.

nice goodies:

a couple small disappointments coming in :

Last year I ran the Mountain Mist 50k in Alabama in January -- I thought it was an excellent tuneup for LLTH. But since I had the swine flu last fall when registration opened, I did not get a chance to enter as it quickly filled up. So, I did not have a race which I felt I needed in January this year.

The Highway Dept has always had the 2 hills leading to LLTH, on Holsclaw Hill and Brooks Hill Roads, at the same priority as Interstates when it comes to clearing & salting the roads in bad weather. For some reason, they did not do any salting till late -- it was a little slick when I came in & it could have been worse. With the rain the day before, I think they were unable to pretreat the roads with their brine and when it came Saturday morning they were just way behind -- plus I think because it was Saturday, they probably thought: who would want to drive up these hills then? Next time they're going to get a call as a reminder . . .


Last year, I came into the race tired from clearing the trails after the ice storm & the course marking was done very late too. This year, Cynthia & I got almost all of the trails marked a week before. Plus, I decided to hike the trails when marking this time & not to run & wear myself out -- or risk injury too. So I felt pretty fresh, though undertrained still, for the race this year.

I recognized quite a few LLTH veterans present & was able to talk to, or throw out words of encouragement to several people I knew or met prerace & on the trail: Todd, Cynthia, Jeff, Suzan, Larry, David, Kim, Brian, Mike, Brenda, Logan, Jennifer, Tony, Eric, Troy, Ricky, Steve, Matt -- everybody was in such a happy mood -- this was a most enjoyable day!

my race:

I took it easy this year, compared to previous years, on the 1st loop & I was content to follow along where I started -- somewhere in the back half. The scenery was absolutely stunning with all the snow blanketing everything & stuck to all the trees & undergrowth like glue. I got in a good chat with Steve Durbin (RD) of LBL (March 13) before he sped off (great run Steve!). I don't think I passed anyone till on the 2nd loop. The footing was more tricky & sloppy on the Yellow Trail, but I knew the course very well. Several runners passed me on the road section though, but I hope those runners enjoyed it while they could -- they may not have this road next year! If the new trail from the Welcome Center to the Yost section is completed this summer, I am pushing for this 1 mile section (done twice) on the 2nd leg to be replaced by trail -- along with the gravel road & highway on the 3rd leg. If the new trail is completed & I have my way, the only pavement on the course will be the short section at Scott's Gap & several road crossings -- that's it! And, I'm even working on bypassing that short piece of road at Scott's Gap!

Starting the 3rd loop, I noticed my time was really slow compared to previous years. I felt OK with that though and also felt I didn't need to push it with the trail conditions as they were. So I kept a slow, but steady pace the remainder of the race. I did get to thank Eric Grossman for the pictures he sent, as he ran past me on the out and back -- I believe it took him a little by surprise! How effortless it seemed in his running style. The next runners who were some distance behind him, looked to be struggling somewhat & feeling their efforts.

On my return trip from Scott's Gap, I passed Rob Apple & Susan Donnelly on their way out to Scott's Gap. I was surprised to see them so far back, but Susan said they were taking pictures & taking their time -- I was so happy that they did! These photos let me relive the race as I recognized most every location that the pictures were taken. Such beautiful scenery has now been captured for posterity. Thank you so much Susan!!

All the photos in this blog post today are
courtesy of Susan Donnelly.

My official time: 7:53:36 -- slowest in the 6 years I've run this event. Winning time was an impressive 5:02:38 by Eric Grossman.


I have the Mt. Cheaha 50k in Alabama on my calendar in a couple weeks. The trails around here look to be packed with snow for at least the next week or so, so it's going to be tough to get in some good running. I'm looking forward to the race though -- it looks like I've run part of it during the Pinhoti 100, except in the opposite direction. After Mt. Cheaha, it's going to be a short 2 weeks to Land Between the Lakes (LBL) 50 miler. Last year, I had one of my better races there, so I'm looking forward to trying to match that effort this year.

Oh yes, my crash diet ending last month was just that. After reaching a whopping 195 #'s in December, I lost 10 #'s after starving myself. But I gained almost all of it back already -- on this last race day, I weighed 191 #'s (obese again).